Thursday, August 27, 2009

Preemie Babies - What to Say & Do when someone you know has a Preemie Baby

Guest Blog Post by Anna of Anna's store specializes in premature infant clothing for the low birth weight (3-6 pound) babies. She is a great resource of information on preemies & life with a preemie. You can also follow Anna on Twitter @AnnasPreemie

Isn’t so exciting when a friend or loved one announces they are pregnant? The first thing you think about is what a joy this baby is going to bring to the family. Then your head goes straight to images of those cute little clothes and smooching all over the new baby.

As she progresses in her pregnancy, you find all the right comforting words for when she calls complaining of morning sickness, words to remind her she is still beautiful even with swollen ankles, or offer advice on different sitting positions as her back begins to ache. You share laughs, you bond, and you are there just to hold her hand whenever she needs you.

Unfortunately, though, not all pregnancies are blissful or normal. For many women having this tiny child inside their bodies to care for can be frightening. Will I be a good mother? Am I doing everything I can to make sure this baby will be healthy? Is the baby OK? The list of questions women ask themselves everyday as they gently stoke their tummies is daunting.

Although she may follow her doctor’s directions, eat healthy, exercise, not smoke, or drink, many women go into labor too early for a normal delivery. Women who deliver their baby before 37 weeks gestation deliver a preterm, or premature baby.

Most premature babies will go into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). NICU nurses and neonatal doctors specialized in the care of these tiny, frail babies will care for the baby around the clock. When you visit the baby, you will see the baby looks much different then a full term baby.

The first thing you will notice of course is the fragility and small size of the baby. The baby’s skin is loose, wrinkled, and probably very red. You will see wires, tubes, and leads inserted into the baby. These are there to help the baby breathe, eat, and provide medicine to help the baby survive.

As you wonder how a baby so small can survive you will then wonder what words of comfort you can bring to the parents. In stressful situations, many people struggle to find the right comforting words. Many people make statements such as “the baby will be just fine”, “don’t worry the baby is strong”, or even worse, “it’s Gods will if it doesn’t live”. [don't say these!]

From the hundreds of mothers we have spoken to who lost a preemie, say the one statement made to them that was the most hurtful is “I understand how you feel” from someone who had never experienced a premature birth or the loss of a baby.

The words you speak from your heart to bring comfort are very simple. Those words are “I’m here for you”. They are not poetically eloquent but those four words mean so very much to someone who is worried, exhausted, frustrated, and blaming themselves for delivering early.

Some ideas to help you are:
- Care for the other children if they have siblings at home
- Cook dinner and put it in the refrigerator for when they can make it home
- Offer to sit with the baby so they can go home for a couple of hours to sleep
- Run errands
- Make phone calls to friends and relatives about updates on the baby’s progress
- Or, just sit quietly with them

If you cannot be there to lend a hand, ask if you can start a blog on one of the many websites specifically for preemie babies. Update it daily to keep other family and friends updated on the baby’s progress. Post pictures if possible. This not only will keep everyone up to date, but also will be a diary for the family to treasure.

It’s not so much the words you say that comforts. Words right now are not nearly as comforting as a hand to squeeze or a shoulder to lean on. Love to all those Tiny Babies!

Guest Blog Post by Anna of You can also follow Anna on Twitter @AnnasPreemie

No comments:

Post a Comment